What Is Gut Health? How Does It Impact My Life?
  /   Dr. John Snow

What Is Gut Health? How Does It Impact My Life?

Your gut has a significant impact on many systems and processes throughout your body, and if your gut is unhealthy, you may experience symptoms or side effects throughout other areas of your body.

Gut health is just as important for every member of the family. Here’s what families can do to promote a healthy gut at every meal.

What Is Gut Health?

Gut health refers to the digestive tract working effectively. The digestive tract (also known as the gastrointestinal tract) requires a proper balance of fiber, water, and bacteria to move correctly. Healthy fiber and plenty of water help the gut move throughout the digestive process. Good bacteria help to break down the food that you eat so your body can access the nutrients and vitamins it contains. 

Your gut is home to millions of microorganisms and microbes that make up your gut microbiome — and this microbiome is crucial to your overall digestive system health and well-being. Your microbiome is full of healthy bacteria that work hard to keep harmful bacteria at bay, and when you’re experiencing uncomfortable digestive symptoms, it may be a sign that your gut flora is imbalanced, leading to poor gut health.

In this case, you may need to make some adjustments to your diet and lifestyle to improve gut health.

What Impact Does Gut Health Have on Overall Health?

Gut health is an important part of your overall health. Your body relies on a properly functioning gut. If your gut isn’t healthy, you may notice changes in the way you feel and look.

Digestive Health

Your gut is responsible for bowel regularity. If your gut isn’t healthy, you may notice side effects like diarrhea, constipation, gas, or bloating. Many people with gut health issues will experience abdominal cramps. The situation can become uncomfortable rather quickly, and intervention is often needed to stop diarrhea or promote a bowel movement when constipation becomes a problem.

Immune Function

Your gut and your immune system are closely connected. You have immune cells in your gut, and if they survive and thrive, they work to support your immune system throughout your whole body. If your gut is imbalanced and the immune-boosting types of bacteria in your gut are hindered, your immune system won’t be able to operate at full capacity.

Nutrient Absorption

Your gut needs bacteria to break down the food you eat, and an unhealthy gut can impair nutrient absorption. 

Once your food is broken down, the body can absorb vitamins, minerals, and nutrients from the food. If your gut is having a hard time breaking down food, there’s a chance that your body won’t effectively process enough of the nutrients it needs to stay strong and healthy. 

This is especially important for children, particularly if they’re picky eaters. Children may not always be the best at finishing their vegetables, so it’s important that their body is as efficient as possible at using the vitamins and minerals that healthy foods contain.

Skin Health

It’s long been said that what you eat can affect your skin, but many of the insinuations were off base. There’s nothing that directly suggests that eating chocolate or pizza can directly contribute to breakouts, but there’s plenty of evidence that a poor diet can disrupt your skin health by way of disrupting your gut health. 

Every part of your body has its own microbiome or bacterial environment. If one bacterial environment is imbalanced, this can affect other bacterial environments. An imbalance in the gut or intestinal tract can lead to an overgrowth of bad bacteria on the skin.

How Can I Tell if My Child’s Gut Is Healthy?

It’s not always easy to determine if someone’s gut is healthy. Significant changes are usually easier to spot in children than adults. Adults may attribute small changes to being tired or stressed, but low energy and stress aren’t common culprits in children. Here’s what parents should look out for. 

Regular, Normal Bowel Movements

The majority of healthy children will have a normal bowel movement at least once a day, but bowel movements as infrequent as three times per week may not be cause for concern. Parents should be watchful for constipation and diarrhea. 

If your child is having a hard time using the bathroom or finds it uncomfortable, this is usually a sign of constipation. One small episode of diarrhea occasionally may not be indicative that something is wrong. Ongoing diarrhea is generally a sign that something is amiss. Check your child for a fever or other signs of illness. If your child isn’t ill, an imbalance of gut bacteria may be the culprit.

Parents often notice diarrhea in children who are taking or have recently completed a course of antibiotics. Antibiotics are sometimes necessary to fight off infections that can make your child seriously ill. While they’re great at destroying bacteria, they don’t have the ability to selectively destroy bacteria. Both the good and the bad bacteria will be eradicated, leaving an imbalance in the digestive tract. 

Normal Amounts of Gas

Children aren’t often shy when they have gas. Some children find it funny. If you notice your child is passing a lot of gas, this might be a sign that their gut isn’t working the way it should. Look for signs of bloating in conjunction with gas and ask your child if they’re experiencing any abdominal discomfort. 

Normal Immune Health

Children come into contact with germs all the time. Usually, they’re fairly resilient. If it seems as though your child is feeling nauseous or sick frequently, it’s time to go to the pediatrician. It’s important to rule out any serious underlying illness and start treating the cause. 

Prioritizing your child’s gut health (and helping them get the vitamins their immune system needs) can help to prepare their body to defend itself against bacterial invaders.

Consistent Energy Levels

Healthy children are often very energetic. If your child is usually active but is beginning to slow down, examine your family’s diet. Whole foods are excellent for the gut. If your child has been eating less nutritious food, they may feel sluggish. Their guy may not be getting everything it needs to function properly, which can lead to feelings of fatigue, bloating, and other uncomfortable symptoms that may interfere with your child’s ability to engage in physical play or sports. 

What Can Do I To Promote Gut Health?

Everything that enters your gut is something that you ate. Great gut health begins with diet. That’s why it’s so easy for families to address their gut health together. Healthy habits are made as a family. Everyone eats together, so everyone can enjoy the benefits of better choices together.

Serve Gut Healthy Foods

Fiber, water, and beneficial bacteria are the three most important things your gut needs to move correctly. Try switching to whole-grain alternatives for the foods you use already — instead of white pasta and white rice, opt for their whole-grain or brown counterparts.

Fiber works to draw and capture water within the digestive tract, making it more comfortable to have a bowel movement. Everyone in your family should be getting plenty of water. Consider getting everyone reusable bottles to drink from throughout the day. This can help motivate everyone (including the youngsters) to meet their hydration goals. 

It’s also a good idea to incorporate more probiotic foods into your family’s diet. Probiotic foods are foods made with live, active cultures or fermented foods that begin to produce their own good bacteria. 

Cultured dairy products like yogurt and kefir are packed with probiotics. Fermented foods like kimchi, sauerkraut, pickles, and kombucha naturally contain good bacteria. If you can get your child interested in eating these foods, add them to your regular menu. If you can’t, there’s another way to help your child get probiotics.

Try Probiotic Supplements

Probiotic supplements are an excellent solution for families with picky eating children, dietary restrictions, or allergies. Probiotic supplements can be used daily to promote gut health. They take a few weeks to begin to produce noticeable benefits, and the benefits will continue with regular use. 

Prioritizing Your Family’s Gut Health

Gut health is broadly important to everyone’s wellness. You might want to make some changes at home to assure that everyone has a healthy gut. If you’re considering probiotic supplements, Hiya has the perfect solution. Our children’s chewable probiotics are vegan, dairy-free, gluten-free, and sugar-free. They’re also eco-friendly and made in the United States. Hiya is made for every kid.



The role of gut microbiota in immune homeostasis and autoimmunity | National Library of Medicine

Efficacy of Probiotics in Children and Adolescents With Atopic Dermatitis: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study | Frontiers in Nutrition

Constipation in children - Symptoms and causes | Mayo Clinic